Magazine article The Spectator

Guilty Pleasures

Magazine article The Spectator

Guilty Pleasures

Article excerpt

A vitally important new poll in Q, the once readable music monthly, has chosen 'Livin' Thing' by ELO as number one in a list of musical 'guilty pleasures', followed by Boston's 'More Than A Feeling', S Club 7's 'Don't Stop Movin' ' and 10cc's 'I'm Not In Love'. Although it's never made quite clear who has voted in this poll, other than the magazine's journalists sitting in the pub at lunchtime (which would explain the strangely arbitrary nature of the choices), it is an interesting list.

We find Foreigner's monumental 'Cold As Ice' at number six, Gerry Rafferty's saxtastic 'Baker Street' at nine and 'Manic Monday' by the Bangles surprisingly low at 17. Guilty pleasures? Just pop songs, surely, but if your taste has been formed purely by the monkish limitations of indie guitar rock, then there probably is something rather daring about admitting you like 'If You Leave Me Now' by Chicago. In a recent interview, Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys admitted that even now, aged 51, there's a part of him that wonders whether it's OK to like certain records.

Which I suppose is the same as conceding that, however old and decrepit you become, a part of your teenage self never leaves you:

the part that's slightly afraid of being identified as Not Quite Cool Enough.

I identify with this for, although my tastes in music have always been and remain horribly uncool, I still shudder at some of the records I have on my shelves, even though I really like them. Example: I have quite a lot of records by Chris Rea. Would anyone else you know admit this? Even Chris Rea, these days, is slightly embarrassed by the idea of Chris Rea, and was last seen trying to atone by releasing an 11-CD box set of grumbly blues songs. Surely he must realise that the old MOR pop records were much more fun, even if sad people like me hide them behind Radiohead CDs we don't play. As a teenager in the 1970s, I never particularly looked forward to growing up, and I am still faintly dreading it.

So the idea behind Guilty Pleasures is a clever one. Radio London DJ Sean Rowley coined the phrase while playing 'Oh Lori' by the Alessi Brothers on his show a couple of years ago. 'That's a guilty pleasure, ' he said, and the phone lines lit up. People would ring in saying that although they loved The Jam and The Clash, they'd really like to hear 'Devil Woman' by Cliff Richard. …

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